"Philippe Aïni, from body to sign"

by Louis Porquet.

When a painter finds his way, the important for him is not to loose himself by trying to maintain it at all costs. As provocative as it may seem, this applies to lots of artists who, worshiped for their works, end up obeying to dangerous automatisms, endlessly multiplying the works which brought the long waited for success. Aïni, like many others, could have rested in this never-ending repetition, all the more so due to the enviable success he

History scaffold (detail) - 2009

It's in United States that the firsts thoughts of a change appeared.

"Everything had became futile and almost mecanical. I couldn't bear myself anymore. I even started to hate myself. One day, in America, I invented myself a way to communicate, a spontaneous language of signs which, I didn't knew by then, would become my alphabet. That essay stayed four monthes on the floor, semi-abandoned. Then, I started forgetting about painting. I was in a very particular state. I then remembered about school, where I was considered a bad student. With time, that new work brought trust back in me, bringing me serenity. And despite the fact that galleries had turned their back to that new orientation, other places like museums welcomed my new works. Creating is like a way of breathing. Just speaking about it makes my hair arise along my whole body. My workshop is a shelter. I can develop an uncommon strength there, an energy that I can't find anywhere else. I'm not usualy of the patient type. But when I'm working, times takes a new dimension. It doesn't obsesses me, as it always does. In the new series I show for the first time to the local public, I lead an important search with colors. Sometimes, the signs nearly become zodiacal silhouettes. The reading code is still to imagine. I leave that to the viewers."

About those works, can we really talk about a radical breakthrough? Anyone taking the time to look closer would see, in his past works, the discreet anouncement of his last paintings, the lousy side being here tamed, put at some distance. What are those signs made of, if not of a lot of figures put to silhouettes that may remind hieroglyphs and of probable origin of certain languages. The postures of those bodies, so able of stretching sometimes to an acrobatic extent, reminds us how much everything into Aïni is part of the Man, of the Woman, of their loving struggles, of Desire, forever reborn.

"It looks like thoughts come out of the characters" as he likes to say, and we gladly follow him.

One of the paintings counts no less than 1600 signs, which gives an idea of the work of the artist, who still uses his famous matress filling, sometimes associated with the same-named cloth. The bed, place of two privacies fusion, is evocated in background, but Aïni's intention is of the most wholesome.

"I invented an alphabet of peace, that cannot be exploited by the system because it is only reachable by the being."

 

Its latin like sms (detail) - 2009

If the galleries are surprised by Aïni's recent works, the amateurs didn't face any difficulty to follow him. Like the Dr Hubault, ophtalmologist at the Mathilde clinic in Rouen, who did not hesitate to ask for three original works. A painting, conform to the new orientation, and two very audacious sculptures: a handswasher with human shape and an impressive two arms and six hands coats rack, of course made to actually receive clothing. That comitment, of the most courageous, stresses all the trust of that amateur that does not fear to shake his customer's habits. Once the surprise passed, there is much to bet that they will learn to live with those stranges hosts who will remind them, at every moment, their human condition.

"I find that sort of madness stimulating, because Dr Hubault gave me total freedom."
Translated interior - 2009

If painting and sculpture keep being two important fields for the artist, fashion attracts him more and more, up to the point where he needs to get the assistance of two sewers, somewhat intrigued of course, by his unexpected orientations. There again the matresses and their filling are one of the ingredients of the new clothing he creates in his workshop's silence. He sometimes adds covers, corsets, fishing nets, dragnets of five or six meters long. Total stranger to the fachion universe, Aïni expresses as an artist first, too happy of being able to dress and sculpt the women's body of all ages.

I'm even making dresses with my alphabet. Each clothing is sewed by hand. I really enjoy myself, but I firmly believe in this, and the presence of the girls that come for posing and shootings is a faboulous motor for me.

Some titles, randomly taken, will give the reader an idea of the fantasy of this particular stylist: Corset dress and its attached handbag, Matress-filling dress, Heating dress, Hoop dress with assorted hat, Chemney dress, Crowd at the balcony dress... Most of those creations let advantageously appear certain body parts (breast, abdomen, hip) which does bring some pepper.

I do all this for the women's beauty and happyness. The defile of March the 1st, at 6pm is settled like a huge show, with its theatral and festive side. It will take place at the Matahari, 15 rue de la petite cité, just next to Evreux City's Town Hall. A dozen of models will present fifty dresses to the public. 14 artists will participate to the event through artworks, and one of the defile will cross the street. It will really be an important moment, to which I'm dedicating for now the best of my strength.

And we sure can expect some surprises with a guest like Philippe Aïni.